Thailand has been successful in its effort to increase wild tiger population, especially in Huay Kha Khang wildlife sanctuary, the National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation Department (DNP) deputy director-general Pinsak Suraswadi, said yesterday.
Disclosure of the increasing tigers living in the wild was made as the country joined the world to mark the UN World Wildlife Day, which falls on March 3.
This year, the World Wildlife Day is celebrated under the theme “Big cats: predators under threat” to raise public awareness on the shrinking big cats population.
Mr Pinsak said survey of wild tiger population in 2012 showed there were between 189-252 tigers in the wild. Most of them, or about 120 live in the Thung Yai Naresuan-Huay Kha khaeng western forest complex.
In Huay Kha khaeng wildlife sanctuary alone, the tiger population has increased from about 40 in 2012 to 60-65 this year. Fifteen tigers were also found in Dong Phyayen-Khao Yai forests.
Apart from protecting tiger population in the wild, the department also adopted effective measures to monitor operation of tiger farms nationwide to prevent smuggling and to ensure that operators follow animal welfare regulations.
Mr Pinsak said there are 49 tiger farms in the country with 1,464 tigers in captivity.
Authorities have been making records of these caged tigers by collecting DNA samples and taking photographs of each animal. The department expected to finish the captive tiger database by the end of this year.
He said Thailand is among 13 countries in the world where there are still tigers living in the wild. Others include India, Russia, China, Myanmar, Bhutan, Malaysia, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Laos and Vietnam.
According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), big cats were among the most widely recognized and admired animals across the globe.
However, today these charismatic predators are facing many and varied threats, which are mostly caused by human activities.
Overall, their populations are declining at a disturbing rate due to loss of habitat and prey, conflicts with people, poaching and illegal trade. For example, tiger populations plummeted by 95% over the past 100 years and African lion populations dropped by 40% in just 20 years. But a range of measures are underway to arrest this decline.